Well… the après-ski is not always what you think.
Last week, in the dead of night, the Canton du Valais lit up some of its mountains, to celebrate 200 years since joining the Swiss Confederation. Teams of Mountain Guides from the Valais region carried incredibly powerful lights up the mountains and, with typical Swiss precision, lit them up in unison to create a truly remarkable sight.
This was a pretty great opportunity to see the mountains in a whole new perspective and as a photographer, I was really keen to try and record the moment with my camera. So along with two other ski instructor/photographers from ES (David Cornish and Becky Shaples) we set out to capture the moment from the top of Mt Fort, which at 3300m is the highest point in the 4 Vallées.
We decided to stay in the Cabane du glacier de Tortin for the night – at 3000m, it’s one the highest places to stay the night in Switzerland. This gave us a great base to set out from to reach the summit of Mt Fort in time to see the lights! We knew the lights were coming on at 20.15pm and knowing the Swiss attitude for time keeping, we were keen to be on time. We reached the summit with 10 minutes to spare and set about preparing ourselves for the spectacle. We had to focus our cameras and prepare our equipment in the dark and hope we were pointing in the right direction. At exactly 20.15pm the lights came on and lit up the Grand and Petit Combin with remarkable ease, especially considering the size of these two mountains.
The three minutes went extremely quickly. It was hard to take lots of photos as each exposure took 20 seconds. Sure enough, after about two minutes the light started to fade and then a minute later it was all over. As a photographer, I find myself often experiencing events through my viewfinder and I get so consumed with the process of taking pictures that I neglect just to enjoy the sight without the pressure and concentration of the image making. So, this time I made sure that I took a moment just to stare in awe. It was a collaboration of nature and man and a celebration of the beauty of the region. I feel pretty lucky to have had this experience.
Written by Nick Reader/ ES Academy